Will Gordon Elliott be at Cheltenham Festival after dead horse photo and what will happen to his runners?

GORDON ELLIOTT is facing a long ban from racing after a shocking photo of him sitting on a dead horse went viral online.

The sport has been rocked by the scandal – with the legendary Mick Fitzgerald reduced to tears when talking about it.

The sickening image was taken 'some time ago' according to Elliott, but has now surfaced just two weeks before Cheltenham Festival.

Will Gordon Elliott be at Cheltenham Festival?

The British Horseracing Authority have banned Elliott, 43, from having runners in Britain.

But the decision could be reversed pending the outcome of the probe into Elliott and the photo's origins by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board.

A BHA statement read: "The BHA, which regulates racing in Britain, will use powers under its own rules to refuse to allow horses trained by Mr Elliott to race in Britain pending consideration of the outcome of the Irish investigation.

"The action taken by the BHA recognises that Mr Elliott is licensed in Ireland, whose regulatory body, the IHRB, is carrying out its own investigation.

"However, Mr Elliott has entered horses to race in Britain, from which point the British Rules of Racing apply to him.

"The decision to refuse to allow horses trained by Mr Elliott to run in Britain is therefore an interim decision which the BHA regards as proportionate in these circumstances."

Regardless, it seems highly unlikely that Elliott will be at the Festival.

The Festival begins on Tuesday, March 16 and ends on Friday, March 19.

What will happen to his horses?

Elliott trains a number of top horses set for Cheltenham and has had 32 winners at the Festival overall.

Unbeaten superstar Envoi Allen is regarded as one of the bankers of the Festival – which is the biggest punting week of the year.

Zanahiyr, Quilixios and Sir Gerhard are three other big names.

While it has been rumoured two-time Grand National winner Tiger Roll could get a run.

Owners of the horses are allowed to transfer them to another trainer should Elliott's British ban remain in place for the Festival.

Why did Gordon Elliott pose for a dead horse photo and who is the horse?

Elliott has apologised twice for the image and admitted it came in a 'moment of madness'.

The horse was called Morgan and was owned by Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary – who has come out backing Elliott.

Winner of four of his 21 starts, the seven-year-old gelding died of an aneurysm in 2019.

Explaining how the photo came about, Elliott said: "The photo in question was taken some time ago and occurred after a horse had died of an apparent heart attack on the gallops.

"I appreciate that an initial viewing of this photo suggests it is a callous and staged photo but nothing could be further from the truth.

"At what was a sad time, which it is when any horse under my care passes away, my initial reaction was to get the body removed from where it was positioned.

"I was standing over the horse waiting to help with the removal of the body, in the course of which, to my memory I received a call and, without thinking, I sat down to take it.

"Hearing a shout from one of my team, I gestured to wait until I was finished. Such background information may seem trivial at this time and will not allay the concerns of many people both within and outside the world of horse racing."

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